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NBA • Sunday Service Plays • 4/3/16

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    Preview: New Orleans At Brooklyn

    When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, April 3, 2016
    Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

    The depleted New Orleans Pelicans have not given up on the season and are using the remaining games to take a look at some players that would not have gotten a chance with a fully healthy roster. The Brooklyn Nets, who host the Pelicans on Sunday, are attempting something similar but don’t have the luxury of a franchise cornerstone like Anthony Davis or an early pick in the upcoming draft.

    New Orleans was without Davis (knee, shoulder), Ryan Anderson (sports hernia), Tyreke Evans (knee), Jrue Holiday (orbital fracture), Norris Cole (back) and Alonzo Gee (quad) on Thursday and used the opportunity to get a long look at newcomers like Tim Frazier, Jordan Hamilton and James Ennis. The three have played a combined 15 games with the Pelicans and totaled 42 points in Thursday’s 101-95 home win over the Denver Nuggets. The Nets have several of their own players trying to establish themselves in the NBA but are having a more difficult time generating wins. Thomas Robinson and Sean Kilpatrick each had strong games in expanded roles on Friday but Brooklyn suffered its fourth straight loss with a 105-91 setback at the New York Knicks.

    TV: 1 p.m. ET, FSN New Orleans, YES (Brooklyn)

    ABOUT THE PELICANS (28-47): Hamilton, Frazier and Ennis combined to go 8-of-15 from 3-point range in Thursday’s win while each playing at least 29 minutes. “There is a closeness within this group, when you get guys trying to establish themselves in this league and are trying to find a way,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry told reporters. “When you put them all out there together, there is a bond there, where they feel like they have to help each other.” That help came in the form of eight assists from Frazier, who is averaging 5.2 assists in nine games since joining the team.

    ABOUT THE NETS (21-55): Brooklyn’s first-round draft pick, which figures to be in the top five, belongs to the Boston Celtics as part of the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett trade, so the team is instead trying to turn over some gems that were missed by other teams. Kilpatrick is with his third organization since the preseason but seems to have found a place as a scorer off the bench for the Nets and scored 17 on Friday to reach double figures for the 13th time in 16 games since joining the team. Robinson is a former No. 5 overall pick in 2012 but is already with his fifth organization and has been strong with three straight double-doubles since earning an expanded role with Brooklyn.


    1. Pelicans PG Toney Douglas has scored in double figures in each of the last 10 games and added 10 assists on Thursday for his first double-double since Mar. 18, 2011.

    2. Nets G Wayne Ellington is 3-of-21 from the field, including 1-of-9 from 3-point range, in the last two games.

    3. New Orleans grabbed a 105-103 home win over Brooklyn on Jan. 30 behind big games from Holiday (26 points), Anderson (24) and Davis (20).

    PREDICTION: Pelicans 91, Nets 88


    Preview: Charlotte At Cleveland

    When: 3:30 PM ET, Sunday, April 3, 2016
    Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio

    Kyrie Irving called his Cleveland Cavaliers the NBA’s “team to beat” but struggled to back up those words with a 5-of-23 performance in an overtime win at Atlanta on Friday. The Cavaliers will try to get one step closer to clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference on Sunday when they host the Charlotte Hornets, who are locked in their own playoff battle.

    Irving drew some criticism for his comments due to the fact that the defending champion Golden State Warriors are on a historic pace and the San Antonio Spurs aren’t far behind, but Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue supported his player before offering a modest clarification. “I think the team that we have, I think our team is very confident,” Lue told reporters. “When (Irving) says ‘the team to beat,’ I would say ‘the team to beat in the East.’ I wouldn’t say overall because the Golden State Warriors won the championship last year.” The Cavaliers have been up and down of late and struggled to look like a championship contender while squandering a 14-point halftime lead against the Hawks on Friday. Cleveland did a favor for the Hornets with that win, and Charlotte was knocking off the Philadelphia 76ers at the same time to stay in the four-team race for the No. 3 spot in the East along with Atlanta, Miami and Boston.

    TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Charlotte), FSN Ohio (Cleveland)

    ABOUT THE HORNETS (44-31): Charlotte had more trouble than it expected on Friday but still pulled out a 100-91 home win over the 76ers behind 27 points and 11 rebounds from Kemba Walker. The standout guard had been in a bit of a slump with one 20-point outing in his previous six games but buried three 3-pointers in the final 4:41 on Friday after Philadelphia had cut its deficit to just four points. The victory, combined with Atlanta’s loss, pulled the Hornets into a virtual tie for the No. 3 spot with the Hawks and Miami while Boston sits a half-game behind the pack entering Saturday.

    ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (54-22): A drama-filled month of March is over and Cleveland has shifted into full-on playoff mode behind LeBron James, who pulled his team to victory with 29 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists on Friday. James moved past Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson and into 11th place on the all-time scoring list in the win. “I wish I could’ve had a triple-double in passing him as well,” James told reporters. “That would’ve been the perfect thing. Any time I’m linked with the Big O, it’s an honor for myself. I understand and know how much he meant not only to the game of basketball but what he represented off the floor. It’s special to be linked with a guy like that who was so special.”


    1. Hornets F Marvin Williams scored in double figures in one of his last six games after putting up at least 12 points in each of the previous seven contests.

    2. Irving is 24-of-82 from the floor in his last four games.

    3. Cleveland has taken two of the three meetings this season including a 114-103 home triumph on Feb. 24 in which James and Irving scored 23 points apiece.

    PREDICTION: Hornets 106, Cavaliers 104


    Preview: Oklahoma City At Houston

    When: 3:30 PM ET, Sunday, April 3, 2016
    Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

    The Oklahoma City Thunder likely took any slight drama out of the race for the No. 3 spot in the Western Conference with a win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday and have won nine of their last 10 games. The Houston Rockets, who host the Thunder on Sunday afternoon, are not nearly as secure in their postseason position.

    The Rockets are fighting with the Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz over the final two spots in the West and did not help themselves with a 103-100 home loss to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday. Houston was outscored 32-20 in the fourth quarter against the Bulls and has dropped five of its last seven games to fall below .500, including a 111-107 setback at Oklahoma City on March 22. “We’ve done things that have worked and at times we get away from those things,” Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff told reporters. “That’s what this league is about, this league is about consistency in the approach, consistency in performance, the consistency in the belief of your system and consistency in willingness to work at it.” The Thunder leaned on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to pull out a 119-117 win over the Clippers, which pushed their lead over Los Angeles to 5 1/2 games with six to play.

    TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

    ABOUT THE THUNDER (53-23): Westbrook made the key defensive play that led to the go-ahead basket on Thursday and grabbed a rebound to clinch it at the end, capping off a 26-point, 11-assist, eight-rebound, four-steal performance. “I’m the type of guy who tries to make something happen,” Westbrook told reporters. “Sometimes I gamble and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m a guy who is going to put my body on the line for my team and try to find a way to help us win.” Westbrook averaged 21.7 points, 10.6 assists and 8.2 rebounds and recorded seven triple-doubles in March.

    ABOUT THE ROCKETS (37-39): Houston has played each of its last seven games against teams fighting for playoff spots, and the five losses came by an average of 4.8 points. The Rockets shot 6-of-21 from the field in the fourth quarter on Thursday as a nine-point lead evaporated. “It hurts them,” Bickerstaff told reporters of his players. “The opportunities are there in front of us – we have to take advantage of the opportunities. This was a team that we had on the ropes. (The Bulls) put in their second-unit guys, and their second-unit guys gave them a huge spark.”


    1. Rockets G Jason Terry, who is considering retirement after the season, interviewed for UAB’s head coaching job.

    2. Thunder F Serge Ibaka is 24-of-42 from the field over his last four games.

    3. Houston F Michael Beasley collected 20 points and 11 rebounds on Thursday for his first double-double since joining the team on March 4.

    PREDICTION: Thunder 115, Rockets 103


    Preview: Dallas At Minnesota

    When: 3:30 PM ET, Sunday, April 3, 2016
    Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

    The Dallas Mavericks have vaulted themselves over the Houston Rockets and back into the top eight in the Western Conference while leaning on the defense during a three-game winning streak. The Mavericks will try to make it four straight when they visit the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.

    Dallas allowed an average of 123.3 points during a three-game slide before turning things around completely and yielding 88.7 points in three consecutive wins. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is changing his lineup on a nightly basis due to injuries and matchups and pledged to continue tinkering the rest of the way. “We need everybody,” Carlisle told reporters after a 98-89 win in Detroit on Friday. “Going forward, we’re a walking adjustment. We’re going to have to adjust to whatever situation we’re up against.” The Timberwolves got chewed out by their coach after a 99-79 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday and weren’t much better in a 98-85 setback at Utah on Friday.

    TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (Dallas), FSN North (Minnesota)

    ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (38-38): The remarkable turnaround on the defensive end has included several small lineups but also gave centers Zaza Pachulia and Salah Mejri chances to shine against Detroit’s big front line on Friday. “The guys are buying into a style of play that puts us into a better position to defend,” Carlisle told reporters. “Going forward, it’s a feel game. Sometimes we’ve got to go a little faster, sometimes we’ve got to tempo it down a little bit. We’ve got a smart, veteran team and these guys all want to win, so we’re just trying to do whatever it takes.” The offense is being taken care of by guard J.J. Barea, who poured in 29 points against the Pistons and is averaging 24.3 in the last three games.

    ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (25-51): Minnesota lost twice to the Jazz in a seven-day span to help Utah jump up in the West playoff standings but can still play spoiler with remaining games against Dallas, Portland and Houston. “For our team, we want to use these games,” interim coach Sam Mitchell told reporters. “We’re playing teams that are fighting for something. Even though we’re not going to make the playoffs, this is how it’s going to be on the road if you make the playoffs.” Mitchell has spent the season trying to teach lessons to his young team but is struggling to turn talent into wins.


    1. Timberwolves G Zach LaVine totaled three points on 1-of-15 shooting in the last two games.

    2. Mavericks G Deron Williams (abdominal) missed the last five games and is questionable for Sunday.

    3. Dallas has taken six straight in the series, including a 93-87 triumph in Minnesota on Jan. 10.

    PREDICTION: Mavericks 102, Timberwolves 92


    Preview: Washington At L.A. Clippers

    When: 3:30 PM ET, Sunday, April 3, 2016
    Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

    The Los Angeles Clippers are just about cemented in the fourth spot in the Western Conference and can begin their playoff preparation in earnest on Sunday at home against the Washington Wizards. The Clippers rested starters Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick and saw star forward Blake Griffin serve the final game of a four-game suspension during Thursday’s 119-117 loss in Oklahoma City.

    All four are expected back on Sunday for Los Angeles, which is 5 1/2 games behind the third-place Thunder and 6 1/2 up on fifth-place Memphis, but Griffin – who has missed over three months due to hand and quad injuries – will be eased back in. “As far as getting rhythm with Blake, it’s not going to happen,” coach Doc Rivers told reporters. “We’re just going to go into the playoffs and stay alive. That’s how we’re going to get our rhythm. To think we’re going to have six days of practice and then we’re in great rhythm, that’s not going to happen.” The Wizards, who are four games through a five-game road trip, are in no position to rest any regulars as they try to chase down a playoff spot in the East. Washington won 106-99 in Phoenix on Friday and trails Indiana by three games for eighth place.

    TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, CSN Mid-Atlantic (Washington), Prime Ticket (Los Angeles)

    ABOUT THE WIZARDS (37-39): All five starters reached double figures versus the Suns, led by John Wall (22 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds). Markieff Morris overcame rounds of boos in his return to Phoenix to produce 21 points and he is averaging 16.3 in 30 minutes over a three-game span. After they leave Los Angeles, the Wizards finish with five games against Eastern Conference teams, including two versus struggling Brooklyn and another against seventh-place Detroit, whom they trail by 3 1/2 games.

    ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (47-28): Despite resting so many key players Los Angeles still made a run at Oklahoma City, largely on the strength of a breakout game for Austin Rivers. The coach’s son scored a career-high 32 points while making 7-of-9 from 3-point range, which gives him 11 makes in 13 attempts over a three-game hot stretch. “He was spectacular,” Jamal Crawford, who also had 32 points – told the media. “He really was. He made play after play. He read the defense. He did a great job. He competed. He really did.”


    1. The Clippers were 17-13 before Griffin was hurt, but went 30-15 in his absence.

    2. Wall has at least 10 assists in 12 consecutive games.

    3. Los Angeles has won seven straight meetings at home.

    PREDICTION: Clippers 108, Wizards 97


    Preview: Memphis At Orlando

    When: 6:00 PM ET, Sunday, April 3, 2016
    Where: Amway Center, Orlando, Florida

    The Memphis Grizzlies are limping toward the finish line in the regular season in many ways with five straight losses and nine in the last 11 as they attempt to seal a playoff spot. The Grizzlies will try to move one step closer to the postseason and clinch their sixth straight winning season when they visit the Orlando Magic on Sunday.

    Memphis lost leading scorer Marc Gasol (foot) for the season and point guard Mike Conley (Achilles) is out indefinitely as the Grizzlies hold down fifth place in the West – four games ahead of ninth-place Houston with six games left. “It sounds redundant, but we just have to stay the course and continue to just fight,” Memphis veteran guard Vince Carter told reporters after a 99-95 loss to Toronto on Friday. “No one said it’s going to be easy.” The Grizzlies will try to extend their winning streak to 10 against the Magic, who lost for the first time in four contests Friday at Milwaukee 113-110. Orlando dropped a 108-102 decision in overtime at Memphis on Jan. 25.

    TV: 6 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Memphis), FSN Florida (Orlando)

    ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (41-35): Jordan Farmar has taken a lot of Conley’s minutes in the backcourt and has performed well, averaging 11 points in six contests, and has been signed for the rest of the season. Lance Stephenson, acquired at the trade deadline, has also been productive while scoring 14.4 per game in 21 outings after averaging 4.7 in 43 contests with the Los Angeles Clippers. Zach Randolph, who had a double-double against Orlando in January (18 points, 13 boards), is scoring 20 per game over his last five.

    ABOUT THE MAGIC (32-44): Orlando let another lead get away Friday, dropping to 9-15 in games decided by five points or fewer, or in overtime. “It’s kind of the same story happening again,” Center Nikola Vucevic told reporters after the loss at Milwaukee. “We just have to find a way to close out these games – make smarter plays, make better plays at the end.” Vucevic has been sizzling since returning from a groin injury, recording 46 points on 22-of-28 from the field in the last two games, and leads the team in scoring (17.9) and rebounding (8.9).


    1. Orlando F Andrew Nicholson is continuing to take advantage of more playing time, averaging 16.2 points in the last five games.

    2. Memphis F JaMychal Green has scored in double figures four straight games, averaging 13.8 – 6.5 above his season mark.

    3. The Grizzlies tied the NBA record by using 27 players this season and can pass the 1996-97 Dallas Mavericks if recently acquired G Bryce Cotton gets in Sunday.

    PREDICTION: Magic 102, Grizzlies 96


    Preview: Utah At Phoenix

    When: 6:00 PM ET, Sunday, April 3, 2016
    Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Arizona

    The Utah Jazz are making their push to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12 and can’t afford a loss when they visit the struggling Phoenix Suns on Sunday. The Jazz have three road games left against teams who won’t be in the postseason and took care of another with a 98-85 triumph against Minnesota on Friday – their ninth victory in the last 12 contests.

    “We’ve been in these types of games before, where we didn’t come out with the right mindset. …,” Utah guard Rodney Hood told reporters. “But now we’ve got those under our belt and we know every game is not going to be a blowout because you think it’s going to be a blowout.” The Jazz are tied with Dallas for seventh in the Western Conference, one game ahead of ninth-place Houston with six contests to go. Phoenix is finishing one of the worst campaigns in franchise history and will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season. The Suns have dropped five in a row and talented guard Brandon Knight (groin) is considered day-to-day.

    TV: 6 p.m. ET, ROOT (Utah), FSN Arizona (Phoenix)

    ABOUT THE JAZZ (38-38): Derrick Favors missed Friday’s contest with a sore right knee and is a game-time decision for Sunday, but rookie Trey Lyles stepped up to score 18 in his spot against Minnesota. “He’s become a good player,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder told reporters of Lyles. “Obviously there are still things he needs to do … but I think you see a confident player.” Gordon Hayward, who leads the team at 19.7 points per game, has scored at least 20 in the last two games and Hood is averaging 22.3 over the past three.

    ABOUT THE SUNS (20-56): Knight is averaging 19.6 points, but the injury which has limited him to 52 games flared up again and he could be shut down for the rest of the season after missing the 106-99 loss to Washington on Friday. Rookie guard Devin Booker averaged an impressive 22.4 points in March, but will need to rebound from a 6-for-22 shooting performance that produced 14 points on Friday. Center Tyson Chandler and small forward P.J. Tucker have notched double-doubles in each of the last two contests.


    1. The Jazz have won all three meetings this season, including 103-69 at home March 17.

    2. Phoenix F Mirza Teletovic recorded his second double-double of the season Friday with 24 points and 12 boards.

    3. Utah G Shelvin Mack, acquired from Atlanta at the trade deadline, is averaging 12.5 points with the Jazz – 15 in the last three games.

    PREDICTION: Jazz 108, Suns 98


    Preview: Chicago At Milwaukee

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Sunday, April 3, 2016
    Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    The Chicago Bulls missed out on an opportunity to gain ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race at home, and now must try to stay alive on the road. The reeling Bulls, losers of five of their last seven, begin a crucial three-game road trip Sunday with a visit to the Milwaukee Bucks.

    Jimmy Butler recorded his first career triple-double (28 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists) but had little help from his teammates in Chicago’s 94-90 loss to Detroit on Saturday. The setback dropped the shorthanded Bulls, who were without two starters, two games behind Indiana for the eighth and final playoff spot. After opening their five-game homestand with a loss to Charlotte, the Bucks have won two in a row, including a 113-110 victory over Orlando on Friday. Giannis Antetokounmpo continued his strong finish with his fifth triple-double since the All-Star break as Milwaukee shot 54.7 percent.

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago, FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee)

    ABOUT THE BULLS (38-38): Derrick Rose (elbow) and Taj Gibson (ribs) did not play against Detroit and their replacements (E’Twaun Moore and Bobby Portis) combined for only 14 points, seven rebounds and one assist. Gibson has the better chance of returning to action Sunday while Rose may be a better bet to come back Tuesday in Memphis. Butler missed the last game against Milwaukee but topped the 30-point mark in each of the first two encounters.

    ABOUT THE BUCKS (32-44): A win would match Milwaukee’s longest winning streak since a season-high four-gamer in the second week of the season. While Antetokounmpo has elevated his game in the second half, Jabari Parker quietly followed suit and is averaging 23.5 points on 75 percent shooting in his last two games. Parker had one of his five double-doubles (18 points, 11 rebounds) in the previous meeting last month in Chicago.


    1. Bucks PG Jerryd Bayless (knee) missed Friday’s game against Orlando and is considered day-to-day.

    2. Bulls SF Mike Dunleavy is 2-of-7 from the floor with zero rebounds in 54 minutes over his last three games.

    3. Chicago C Pau Gasol has a double-double in nine of the last 11 contests.

    PREDICTION: Bucks 99, Bulls 98


    Preview: Indiana At New York

    When: 7:30 PM ET, Sunday, April 3, 2016
    Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York

    The Indiana Pacers survived a scare against the league’s worst team and try to build off a strong fourth quarter 24 hours later when they visit the New York Knicks on Sunday. Indiana scored 41 points in the final 12 minutes to rally past Philadelphia 115-102 on Saturday, increasing its lead over Chicago for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference to two games.

    “I’m not happy with how our overall results have been,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel told reporters after his team’s second win in five games. “Most important thing in any season, and in particular with our recent struggles, is finishing strong and playing our best basketball during the playoffs. That’s the goal and that’s still attainable.” All-Star Paul George hasn’t been the problem for Indiana, averaging 23.8 points over the past five contests. The Knicks ended a three-game slide with a 105-91 victory over Brooklyn on Friday as Langston Galloway recorded 18 points. New York’s leading scorer Carmelo Anthony was held to 13 points in the contest, but averaged 26.2 over his previous five outings.

    TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Indiana, MSG (New York)

    ABOUT THE PACERS (40-36): Vogel changed his rotation Saturday, moving Lavoy Allen into the starting lineup and pushing rookie Myles Turner to the bench to help give more juice to the second unit. Turner recorded eight points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes against Philadelphia while C.J. Miles scored 25 off the bench after averaging 8.7 over his previous three outings. Forward Jordan Hill did not play Saturday after losing his rotation spot to Solomon Hill, who posted six points to go along with six rebounds in 29 minutes.

    ABOUT THE KNICKS (31-46): Standout rookie Kristaps Porzingis (14.3 points) could be done for the season because of a shoulder injury and point guard Jose Calderon (thigh) may be shut down as well. Forward Derrick Williams stepped up the last two games in the absence of Porzingis, averaging 15.5 points and draining 10-of-16 from the field. Galloway registered double figures in scoring for only the second time since producing 17 points, six rebounds and four assists in a loss at Indiana on Feb. 24.


    1. The Pacers have won the last five meetings, including the 108-105 triumph in February, and the teams play again in Indiana on April 12.

    2. Indiana G Rodney Stuckey poured in 17 points Saturday on 6-of-7 shooting from the field after scoring 15 combined over the previous four.

    3. New York F Cleanthony Early doubled his scoring total for the season with seven Friday.

    PREDICTION: Pacers 110, Knicks 96


    Preview: Portland At Golden State

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Sunday, April 3, 2016
    Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California

    The Golden State Warriors continue pursuit of the best record in NBA history while trying to shrug off the disappointment of having their 54-game home winning streak snapped when they host the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday. Golden State was stunned 109-106 by the Boston Celtics on Friday at Oracle Arena, and must win five of its final six games to finish 73-9 and eclipse the NBA standard of 72-10 set by the Chicago Bulls in 1995-96.

    “Everybody’s bummed,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters after Steph Curry missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 5.6 seconds left. “I congratulated them. Are you kidding me? They just won 54 home games in a row. What our guys accomplished is incredible. I don’t know if people understand the intensity it takes and the work that it takes to put together a streak like that.” Five of Golden State’s remaining games are against playoff teams – including a pair apiece with San Antonio and Memphis – as the Warriors on April 10 will have a chance to deny the Spurs from becoming the first team in NBA history to win all its home games in a season. Portland, which handed Golden State its most lopsided loss of the season 137-105 on Feb. 19, has won four straight after a 110-93 victory over Miami on Saturday. The Trail Blazers sit sixth in the Western Conference, one-half game behind Memphis and 3 1/2 games clear of ninth-place Houston.

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBATV, KGW (Portland), CSN Bay Area (Golden State)

    ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (41-36): Portland tries to become the first team to defeat the Warriors twice this season and hopes Oakland native Damian Lillard snaps out of his shooting slump. Lillard (team-best 25.1 points per game) has been held to fewer than 20 points in five straight contests and is shooting 29.3 percent during that span. C.J. McCollum (20.7) scored 24 points and was 6-for-6 from 3-point range Saturday and with Lillard forms the third-highest scoring tandem in the league behind Curry and Thompson, and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

    ABOUT THE WARRIORS (68-8): While Curry (NBA-leading 29.97 points per game) averages at least 30 points against more than half the teams in the league including Portland, Klay Thompson (22.4 points) averaged 32 in the first three meetings of the season with the Trail Blazers. Andre Iguodala is close to a return after missing 12 games with an ankle injury suffered while battling for a loose ball with Lillard on March 11. Any combination of Golden State wins and San Antonio losses equaling three clinches the all-important homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs for the Warriors, who could face Portland in the second round.


    1. Golden State has won 113 consecutive games – playoffs included – when leading by at least 15 points at any point.

    2. Lillard is shooting 95.4 percent from the free-throw line in the last 20 games and is seventh in the league at 88.9 percent.

    3. The Warriors won two of the first three meetings in the four-game season series, including a 128-112 victory March 11 for their third consecutive home win over the Trail Blazers – their longest such run since winning nine straight from 2005-09.

    PREDICTION: Golden State 128, Portland 112


    Preview: Boston At L.A. Lakers

    When: 9:30 PM ET, Sunday, April 3, 2016
    Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

    The Boston Celtics look to follow up a signature win against the NBA’s top team with a successful visit to one of its worst when it takes on the rival Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. The Celtics, who clinch a playoff spot with a victory, became the first team since Jan. 27, 2015 to win at Golden State when they outlasted the Warriors 109-106 on Friday night.

    It snapped Golden State’s 54-game home winning streak, gave Boston a 2-2 mark on its current five-game road trip and signaled to many that Brad Stevens’ team is as tough-minded as any other. “We know we can beat the best teams in the league,” guard Isaiah Thomas told reporters after his 15th straight 20-point game. “In our schedule, we beat a lot of the top teams. And we know we can compete. And we know we’re a team that guys don’t really want to play when it comes to the playoffs, just because of how we play and how hard we play.” Sunday marks Los Angeles great Kobe Bryant’s final game against the Celtics, whom he met twice in the NBA Finals and several other times in hotly contested regular-season affairs. The future Hall of Famer played just nine minutes due to general soreness in a 102-100 overtime win against Miami – one of three teams the Celtics are fighting for third place in the Eastern Conference – on Wednesday.

    TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, CSN New England (Boston), TWC SportsNet (Los Angeles)

    ABOUT THE CELTICS (44-32): Forward Jae Crowder was rested Friday night as he works his way back slowly from a high ankle sprain, but deemed himself good to go for Sunday. Even without his solid defense along the front line, Boston forced Golden State into 22 turnovers and also gained a 57-48 advantage on the glass. Thomas has led the team in scoring in each of those 15 straight 20-point efforts, the longest such streak in franchise history.

    ABOUT THE LAKERS (16-59): Wednesday’s win on a late Julius Randle basket, followed by three days off, gave Los Angeles a much-needed break from the constant losing and recent off-court controversies. “I felt like we had a whole bunch of motivation to pull one out,” guard D’Angelo Russell – who was the central figure in the leaking of a controversial video involving teammate Nick Young – told the media following a 16-point effort. “It was tough to a certain extent, but we’ve got a guy like Kobe that’s been through everything, and he was like, `You’ve got to just play. You’ve got to just play.’ I just ran with it.” Randle finished March with nine double-doubles and Jordan Clarkson capped the month with 26 points, his best total since Feb. 24.


    1. Clarkson had 24 points and Bryant recorded 15 points and 11 rebounds in a 112-104 win at Boston on Dec. 30.

    2. Celtics SG Evan Turner, whose scoring average is 10.4, has reached at least 12 points in seven of the last eight games.

    3. The Lakers have won four straight encounters against Boston at home.

    PREDICTION: Celtics 107, Lakers 103


    Hot teams
    — Dallas won its last three games, allowing 89-89-88 points (6-1 last 7A)
    — Charlotte won seven of last nine games (9-4 last 13A). Cleveland won five of its last seven games (4-7 last 11HF).
    — Thunder won nine of their last ten games (5-2 last 7AF).
    — Clippers won four of their last five games (3-5 last 8HF).
    — Utah won seven of its last ten games (8-4AF).
    — Orlando won three of its last four games (4-1 last 5HF).
    — Bucks won three of last five home games (8-2 last 10HF).
    — Golden State won six of its last seven games (0-4 last 4HF). Blazers won their last four games (2-3 last 5AU).
    — Celtics won five of their last seven games (7-4 last 11AF).

    Cold teams
    — Pelicans lost four of their last six games (4-1 last 5AU). Nets are 2-7 in their last nine games (2-2HF).
    — Minnesota lost three of its last four games (0-3 last 3H).
    — Rockets lost five of their last seven games (5-3HU).
    — Washington lost four of its last six games (2-4 last 6AU).
    — Phoenix lost its last five games (3-2 last 5HU).
    — Grizzlies lost their last five games (4-2 last 6AU).
    — Bulls lost five of their last seven games (5-1 last 6AU).
    — Indiana lost three of last four games (1-3 last 4AF). Knicks also lost three of last four games (2-6 last 8HU).
    — Lakers lost eight of their last ten games (5-7 last 12HU).

    Series records
    — Pelicans won their last four games with Brooklyn.
    — Mavericks won their last six games with Minnesota.
    — Cavaliers won five of last six games with Charlotte.
    — Houston won five of last seven games with Oklahoma City.
    — Clippers won eight of last ten games with Washington.
    — Jazz won six of their last eight games with Phoenix.
    — Grizzlies won last nine games (6-3 vs spread) with Orlando.
    — Bulls won three of last four games with Milwaukee.
    — Knicks lost their last five games with Indiana.
    — Warriors won five of last six games with Portland.
    — Lakers won five of last six games with Boston.

    — Four of last five New Orleans games stayed under.
    — Five of last seven Minnesota games stayed under.
    — Four of last five Cleveland games stayed under total.
    — Six of last seven Houston games stayed under.
    — Five of last six Clipper games stayed under the total.
    — Eight of last ten Utah games stayed under the total.
    — Under is 5-3 in last eight Orlando games.
    — Seven of last eight Chicago games stayed under.
    — Five of last six Indiana-New York games stayed under.
    — Five of last six Portland games stayed under.
    — Five of last six Boston games stayed under total.

    — Bulls are 4-10 in last 14 games if they played night before.
    — Indiana covered four of last six if it played night before.
    — Portland covered four of last five if it played night before.


    StatFox Super Situations™ – FoxSheets

    Play Over – All teams where the total is greater than or equal to 210 averaging 53 or more rebounds/game on the season, in April games
    81-40 since 1997. ( 66.9% | 37.0 units )
    3-2 this year. ( 60.0% | 0.8 units )

    Play Against – Home underdogs of +145 to +350 vs. the money line (LA LAKERS) poor defensive team – allowing 99+ points/game on the season against opponent after allowing 105 points or more 2 straight games
    136-31 since 1997. ( 81.4% | 59.9 units )
    27-7 this year. ( 79.4% | 5.9 units )

    Play Under – Home teams where the first half total is greater than 100 off a loss by 10 points or more to a division rival, on Sunday games
    46-18 since 1997. ( 71.9% | 26.2 units )
    5-2 this year. ( 71.4% | 2.8 units )


    Basketball Crusher

    Brooklyn Nets + New Orleans Pelicans – OVER 205
    (System Record: 71-4, lost last game)
    Overall Record: 71-82-3

    Boston Celtics + Los Angeles Lakers – OVER 209.5

    New York Knicks +3.5 over Indiana Pacers

    Washington Wizards +6.5 over LA Clippers

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